My First Memorable Moments of Residence: A Flashback

When I think back to my first time experiencing residence, it really doesn’t feel like that long ago. It was one of those moments that I will remember forever – the beginning of a new chapter of my life. My mother and I flew out to the island together, each checking a few bags with way too much stuff. I was nervous, excited, and had no idea what to expect even though I had been given numerous tips from friends who had gone through it before.

We arrived in Victoria, checked into a hotel, and wandered around downtown to find a place to eat. We decided on eating at a popular breakfast joint, John’s Place, where I remember having a delicious Eggs Benedict. The trip was off to a great start.

Rachel at airport

2011 – Me at the Edmonton airport ready to fly to my new home on the island

Since we got there a couple days before we were allowed to check into the residences, my mom and I hit the stores to find all of the things I needed to make my new dorm room my own. We went to all of the classic cheap places to deck out a residence dorm. Walmart had all of the essentials for little storage units and snacks, the Bay was having Bay Days (great deals) and I was able to find bedding that I fell in love with, and Home Sense had the rest. I was antsy, torn between the anticipation of being ‘free at last’ and independent, but also dreading the moment that my mom would leave me on my own. I was anxious, scared, and happy all at the same time.

The day came to check into our dorms. The energy of the university was electric – everywhere you looked there were kids pushing around carts full of things. I took an interest in checking out each item that people were carrying up to the buildings. There was a lineup to retrieve keys, and after waiting for a little while I was finally holding my new key to my very own place.

After scrambling around the area with a map, we found my building: I was in the Baker Building. I had requested a quiet dorm, being on the track team. I was nervous that it wouldn’t fit with my personality, as a person who liked to seek out social situations. It was suggested to me that this would be a good fit so I could be in an individual room and stick with my own schedule and get adequate sleep on Friday nights to get up for Saturday practices.

Riding off the energy of organizing a brand new room, my mom and I got right to work putting everything together and unpacking my suitcases, putting decorations on the wall, and deciding what I wanted my new pad to look like. A day later, the work was done and I remember sitting on my bed with my mom dreading the next step…her departure. It was time for her to leave me and fly back to Edmonton.

The goodbye was hard for both of us – she gave me a hug with tears in her eyes, and I couldn’t hold back the waterworks as well. I was her first child to move away, so it was a very new experience for both of us. Eventually she left and I was alone sitting on my bed.

Now what? I remember thinking.

I could hear people outside my door. I decided to walk outside and encountered a girl who was going to be living in the dorm next to me. We introduced each other and I could tell that this was someone I wanted to be friends with. Great start.

The next week was a huge stretch out of my comfort zone, and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I had to challenge the urge to retreat, and learned to open up in order to meet people and create a new world for myself. It was exciting, scary, and fun.

The residence setup was great for this – the Community Leaders helped create a sense of belonging by having icebreaking days, helping our building residents get to know each other. It was exciting to walk into my first class and see someone that I had met the day before; a familiar face had never felt so comforting.

My building crew did activities together like midnight skating at Oak Bay Rec Centre!

My building crew did activities together like midnight skating at Oak Bay Recreation Centre!

Residence was a perfect first step after living at home with my parents – I didn’t have the huge responsibility of remembering to pay bills every month, cook every day for myself, and figuring out the commute to school. I had just enough freedom to feel like I was becoming independent, but only had to worry about making friends and figuring out how this whole university thing worked.

By the time my two terms living on campus was over, I felt ready to take on the next step and live in an apartment and continue to figure out ‘adulting’.

"Laundry Parties" made boring chores a lot more fun

“Laundry Parties” made boring chores a lot more fun

Leave a comment with any of your questions about what res life is like, or share your own experience with your first moments living on campus!


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4 Responses

  1. Kate says:

    This was such a great read – thanks Rachel! 🙂

  2. Gursesak says:

    What is it like in sir arthur currie building if u know something?

    • Rachel says:

      The residence building themes change year to year! But I did have friends in that building when I was in res. Sir Arthur Currie are two to a room so you’d have a roommate, but the rooms are quite big since it’s an older building! Those who lived in it really liked it.

      If you have more specific questions go to the First Year @ UVic Facebook page or ask them on this post! Happy to help as much as I can! 🙂


  3. Erin says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I stayed at home for my first couple of years, going to what was then the University College of the Fraser Valley. When I came to UVic, I felt like I was too old for res, but a part of me has always regretted not doing it. I’ve seen great camaraderie in people who lived through res together and some of my friends remain really close to former dorm mates.

    Your comment about seeing a familiar face in class is great! I now teach at UVic and my classes are big. I try to encourage people to get to know the folks around them so that they too can start to see familiar faces in the classroom. Large classes can be a bit intimidating at first and it helps to feel like you have a friend.